Matt Griffin claims New Zealand Open victory
Victorian Matthew Griffin was rewarded for his bold play over the closing holes, taking out the biggest win of his career with a birdie on the final hole to win the BMW ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open on Sunday.
Although Griffin has won some significant events in his professional career, this week was the first time his immediate family had been present to watch him battle it out for an important championship. And what a week to pick.Matt Griffin (Credit: Getty Images)
“My girlfriend Liz, family and friends are here, the celebrations are going to be pretty big.” an elated Griffin said.
“It’s the first time that my parents have travelled overseas to see me play and it’s the biggest amount of people I’ve had at any event. There will be a drink out of that trophy before the night is over!”
Japan’s Hideto Tadihara, a profilic winner on his home Tour, lead Griffin by a single stroke with three holes to play and made an important up and down on the 16th as Griffin missed from relatively close range in a bid to to tie the scores.
On the 17th, Griffin tried to take matters into his own hands by attacking the green in two with a driver off the fairway at the par-five. An explosion from a greenside bunker and a well struck putt shaved the hole, allowing Tadihara to maintain his slender lead with a hole to play.
With the honour off the tee, Griffin struck the perfect drive which caromed down the fairway to within short iron range, while Tadihara ran out of fairway to the right and found himself in thick fescue grass.
After Tadihara attempted the bold line and found the cavernous bunker fronting the green, Griffin replicated the feat of 2015 winner Jordan Zunic by wedging close to the hole to pile the pressure back on his playing partner.
When Tadihara was not able to save par, Griffin holed the most important putt of his career from six feet to win the championship.
“It was the most nervous I’ve been, I did a lot of deep breathing on the green and it was a nice putt.” Griffin said.
“This is by far the biggest event I’ve won. To win the New Zealand Open, it’s got so many good names on the trophy, it’s a real step forward for me.”
Griffin’s 5-under 67 in the final round saw him post a winning total of 20-under 267, one ahead of Tanihara and six ahead of New Zealander Michael Hendry and Japan’s Shunsuke Sonoda who tied for third.
Tadihara was gracious in defeat having thoroughly enjoyed his first trip to the Queenstown area, despite losing his grip on the tournament on the final hole.
“That’s the way that golf goes, there are many good players here and out of 144, only one can win. I would like to try the same challenge again in the future.” Tadihara said.
The PGA Tour of Australasia now travels immediately to South-East Queensland for the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship, to be played at City Golf Club, Toowoomba from the 17-20 March.